“There are many things we can do for the environment even if we are in a total quarantine” ~ Laura García, CEWG candidate

One of the most difficult challenges that our society urges to face nowadays is climate change. AEGEE is quite aware of this concern, thus this environmental topic has been set as one of the focus areas of our association for the period of 2020-2023. When it comes to Climate Emergency Working Group Coordinator applications, Laura García from AEGEE-A Coruña introduces herself as a  highly motivated and prepared candidate. 

García has a Degree in Oceanography and Master in Environmental Management and has also done internships in Oceanographic institutes, an animal conservation place and environmental consultant company; as well as taking part in the European Solidarity Corps (Erasmus+) about Marine Conservation and Environmental Education. 

Regarding her AEGEE experience, Laura García joined our association back in 2016, and she has been quite active ever since. She went from becoming secretary, vice-president and afterwards president of A-A Coruña to being one of the organisers of Autumn Agora Salerno 2019. Laura has also been a member of the Sustainability Committee of AEGEE since 2019 where she got to organise the Earth Day and spread awareness of the topic through articles and webinars.

In your application, you state the fact that you have a Degree in Oceanography and a Master in Environmental Management. How could you apply this knowledge to the CEWG position?

My studies gave me the knowledge to understand and to transmit in a technical way the problematics at an environmental level. For example, I have a piece of deep knowledge about the status of several marine species and their danger of extinction or the level of migrations due to temperature variations in the water. I also understand a bit about the atmosphere and its dynamics. In my master, I also studied energy consumption. So, I think I can apply all this knowledge to the work that we will do in the Focus Area.

Climate emergency has been set as one of the focus areas for the Strategic Plan 2020-2023, and during the last months, we have also seen some events and social media campaigns regarding this topic. Do you think that AEGEEans awareness of the environment has increased during these years?

Yes. Fortunately, in recent years AEGEE started to take action on this topic, starting with the Society & Environmental Interest Group, The Manifesto, green guidelines, workshops, events, The Sustainability Committee and so on. Finally, we arrive at the point of having a Focus Area about Climate. We have many AEGEEans aware of the topic, but we still need to do a lot of work to reach more people and reach them deeper.

Your program states the importance of better communication between CEWG and locals. This issue seems to appear in other working groups as well. Why do you consider this to happen and how would you improve it?

I think sometimes there is not enough proactivity on both sides – locals and WGs, so is very common this hole between both. Also, locals are sometimes afraid to contact European Bodies and they think they can handle it themselves. I planned to collaborate with other WGs and establish a direct channel, so locals can approach us in a more informal way, so maybe they will be “less shy” to come to us.

Another interesting point that you have made is the importance of collaborating with external partners. Do you have any particular association in mind? How would you improve local activism?

Regarding the first question, there are many associations around Europe that are working on this topic and that we and those associations can promote each other. For example, we have already promoted activities from associations such as UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme). Any other association which is not focused on environmental issues but is interested in the Climate Change topic will be very welcome to establish a collaboration with BEST, EGEA green, IFMSA, IAAS (among others) on the promotion of several online events and providing materials.

Regarding the second question, what makes an antenna not active in a certain topic? (In this case, doing activities regarding sustainability management).

  1. “I don’t know”. We will inform about different campaigns or activities that can be done in a city.
  2. “I can’t”. If you don’t have enough active members or if you don’t have time for organizing activity, you can contact local associations or the city councils and join their initiatives.
  3. “I don’t want to”. It would be interesting to do research and understand why those people don’t want to take part.

From time to time, I will send a survey and make a measurement of the local’s performance on this topic.

You seem to be very keen on writing articles and being active on social media in order to strengthen your reach to AEGEEans. Can you tell us some ideas?

I think writing is a really efficient way to approach people and transfer information to them. My strategy is to use very simple vocabulary and not too long articles, with the obvious message, always along with pictures with explanations, graphics, and so on. Nowadays, almost everyone is inside of any social media, so it is a really fast way to approach and to make people be interested in the content.

When it comes to COVID-19, which actions could CEWG take to help AEGEE and its members?

There are many things we can do for the environment even if we are in a total quarantine. When it comes to a situation of 100% quarantine, CEWG can help to share material and deliver online workshops. Fortunately, right now, it seems that the situation is getting better and we can go more outside, so we will be able to organise other kinds of activities, at least at a local level (+ all the things you could already do at your home). And hopefully, during my year of coordinator, we will be able to organize an event at Network Level. With or without live activities, we will anyway provide Guidelines, Workshops and Webinars and a lot of information in our social media, to keep people updated and informed.